This past week, Chef Morimoto of Morimoto Asia and Iron Chef fame, alongside Morimoto Asia’s Chef Yuhi visited Tori Tori and EdoBoy Standing Sushi in Orlando’s Mills 50 District.
Owner/Chef Sean Sonny Nguyen – who as a boy looked up to Chef Morimoto as an inspiration – spoke with us at Tasty Chomps about this occasion and how it felt to have him as a guest – as well as upcoming plans for the Domu Dynasty.
Ricky Ly, Tasty Chomps: What was it like meeting Chef Morimoto?
Sean Nguyen: He is a very personable guy and easy to talk to. Very humble and dedicated to what he does. In our conversations we talked about his life and how he travels 200 days a year working. Some injuries he is currently going through and how long he plans to keep pushing.
He told me “if Jiro is 97 years old and is still doing sushi, then I need to keep pushing”. He was friendly with our staff and guests and even gave me an autograph on a OG photo of him when Iron Chef came out. He mentioned to me that he was around 43 years old when he did that show. We talked about a lot in a short period of time.
What was he doing in town? How did he end up at Tori Tori / EdoBoy?
I believe he was in town for his omakase “momokase” at his restaurant at Disney Springs for the Yamazaki event. I received an email from his executive chef “Chef Yuhi” inquiring about a time-slot at Edoboy for Chef Morimoto for this past Sunday so we made sure to make room for him. He originally was trying to dine at 6pm but since the earliest we had was 8pm, they decided to stop by Tori Tori first for some highballs and yakitori.
They ended up coming back to Tori Tori after their meal at Edoboy. Chef Yuhi dined at Edoboy a few weeks prior and he mentioned it to Chef Morimoto, who then wanted to come check us out and that’s kind of how it all happened.
How is business going for you all? Upcoming plans?
Business is going great. We have been doing really well this year and Edoboy so far has been a hit. Our main focus coming up is to continue improving our current brands. I’ve been working behind the scenes with improving the DOMU recipes and working on updated broths which will be hitting the stores early next year. There should be a significant improvement with overall quality of the broths.
Also, we are working on improving our overall ingredients for the ramen which include but not limited to toppings, proteins, and oils. We currently are testing out pork with a heritage breed, looking into other egg options, raising viscosity in our broths and meat flavor, and just rethinking some of our core recipes to produce overall cleaner/better flavors. They will equate to overall small changes so the translation to the customer’s bowl may seem very minute but we feel better about serving an overall better product.
Ramen is an ever changing game, so we have to continue to just keep changing small elements one at a time, probably forever. For Tori Tori, our GM and bar manager have been working on a lot of Tori Tori exclusive releases which include El Tosoro Tequila, Knob Creek, and Maker’s Mark.
Also, our Gatsu Gatsu Rice Lager collab with The Ravenous Pig will be canned soon and be offered in ABC’s, Total Wines, and Whole Foods around Florida which is super exciting since this will be our first ever retail product with our name on it. Our teams have been working hard at staying consistent, producing new and exciting things for the city, and maintaining operations all at the same time so big props to everyone.
What did Chef Morimoto say when he came? Did he like the food??
The feedback that we got was that he loved everything at both Tori Tori and Edoboy. He mentioned that he previously was looking into opening standing sushi bars in the states but just haven’t found the right place to do it yet and was overall impressed with Edoboy from the layout, to the rice, to the nori. It meant the world to me when Chef Tyler told me that Chef Morimoto mentioned to him during their meal that I was doing a great job and really know what I’m doing. I had to check a few times if those words verbatim came out of his mouth and Chef Ty confirmed. Getting acknowledgment from someone like him meant a lot to me and I am extremely thankful for the Morimoto team for bringing Chef Morimoto to my concepts.
What was Chef Morimoto’s impact on you growing up?
Honestly, I watched a lot of OG Iron Chef growing up. Chef Morimoto was always my favorite. When I was a kid, my brother would take me to the store to pick out some ingredients and we would do Iron Chef battles together at home and have my now sister-in-law be the judge. I looked up to Chef Morimoto since a young age and to have him dine at my restaurants on his own accord is very surreal to me. I believe that he definitely had an impact of my direction of focusing on Japanese cuisine.
Will there be a collab in the future?
Who knows, but I’m soaking in this moment as if it may never happen again and that I am fulfilled that it did happen. That’s actually a term we use often and what Tori Tori’s motto is based off of. In Japanese its called Ichigo Ichie.
Tori Tori – 720 N. Mills Ave, Orlando, FL, United States, Florida
EdoBoy – 728 N Thornton Ave, Orlando, FL 32803